Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Final Lunchbox Countdown...

There are only 20 some days of school left. These final days carry with them the advent of idyllic summer days. Sprinklers, Popsicles, uninterrupted gardening and easy grill meals.
And - no more lunches to pack. The boys make their own lunches so I'm only on the hook for about 40 more. Oh boy!

Given the alternative, hot lunch, I'd gladly pack lunches forever. Lunch from home ensures the "lunchbox rules" are in place - protein, fruit and/or veggie and something crunchy but nothing with orange powder. It's stuff I know they'll eat and I change up the choices a lot. There's always got to be a sweet, too. That's my favorite lunchbox rule!

One of our most favorite things are Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars. I usually have most of the ingredients in the house and bars = no scooping! For a lunchbox recipe like this I use old-fashioned rolled oats (the ones at TJ's are good) rather than my Green City favorite.

They go together really quickly.

Cut in squares and popped into a wax bag they are the best part of any lucky kid's healthy lunch box.

I think even Jamie Oliver would be proud.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars
Williams-Sonoma - with my own little notes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt (I use generous double the amount of kosher -imparts a sweet salty bite here & there)
8 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter (Always Skippy for baking)
1 egg, room temperature
1 t. vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8" square baking pan with butter, then line with parchment paper, letting 2 sides hang over.

In a large bowl, using and electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and peanut butter on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Turn off the mixer and add the flour-oat mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended.

Using the rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until the top of the cookie is golden and looks firm, 25-30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Life the cookie from the pan, dust with confectioner's sugar if you like to make them cute. Cut into 1"x4" bars or whatever size floats your boat.

Makes 16 bars

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